Betty and the wounded puppy

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puppyAs usual, Betty was the first to wake up in her house, at the crack of dawn. She always slept facing the window so that the first rays of the rising Sun would gently wake her every morning.
She didn’t care to wash her face or brush her teeth. Like a bird set free from its cage, she rushed out of the house in glee. Of course, she didn’t forget to change into her favorite golden frock! She imagined that after wearing it, she became one with the golden rays of the morning Sun! Anyone watching would agree with her, too! For, she seemed to have been made out of honey! Her curly blonde locks, her honey-colored skin, her warm sunny smile, her golden frock and her vibrant energetic gait resembled every bit the golden rays of the Sun bouncing off the rippling waters of the neighboring pond.
She loved to breathe in the fresh morning air and to bask in the warm rays of the early morning Sun. She loved to collect the flowers that bloomed along the roadside. She used to take the same route for her daily morning walk, or rather, stroll! She would walk along the pond, say “Hi!” to the ducks swimming in groups, visit mother Mary in the Church, say her little prayer and then return back to her house.
But today was no ordinary day. For, she heard a weak yelp from behind a bush when she was plucking some wild flowers. She froze and listened more intently. Again, after a few seconds, she heard the yelp of pain – very clearly this time. She rushed towards the sound, parted the branches of the bush and peered hesitantly. She found a narrow trench behind the bush. She had to climb over the bush to step into the trench. As she did so, the hem of her golden frock caught in one of the branches of the bush and tore. She winced. It was her favorite frock. She forgot this loss when she saw the pup lying on its sides, its mouth open, with a gaping hole in its back. Maggots, worms and flies were crawling in the wound in the poor pup’s back. The poor pup was still alive and yelping in pain.
Just as a mirror captures the image in front of it in every detail, Betty’s kind heart captured the pup’s suffering in every single detail. Her young and tender heart was not strong enough to withstand the sight of such suffering. Nothing in her young life had prepared her for such a horrible sight.
For a few seconds, she just remained frozen, as she had stopped breathing. Then she burst out crying. She just sank to the ground beside the pup and started weeping, not knowing what to do to help the poor pup. She was afraid to move the pup for fear of increasing its pain. She tried to drive away the flies by waving her hand over the wound.
Eddy, her friend from the neighboring house was passing by that way, when he heard her crying and stopped to investigate. He summed up the situation quickly and realized that the pup needed to be rushed to a doctor immediately. But he had to go to school and so had Betty! They definitely didn’t have the time to take the pup to the veterinary doctor 10 miles away in the city. Then, he got an idea.
“Stop crying, Betty! Your crying is not going to make the pup feel any better. So stop it!” She was still sobbing, her chest heaving with deep breaths, her face all crinkled up like a wet crumpled handkerchief! She looked so cute even in tears that Eddy had to suppress his smile with great difficulty! He held her shoulders and shook her vigorously till she stopped crying. “Let’s call up the Animal Help-line. They’ll send an ambulance to pick up the pup and take it to a vet. We can get the number from a phone directory. Come on! Hurry!” This idea seemed to console her and very hesitantly she got up and left the side of the injured pup. She tore a piece out of her golden frock and covered the pup’s wound with it. She gently stroked the tiny head of the pup and cooed some endearing words into its ears to console it. Amazingly, her touch and voice seemed to comfort the pup, since it stopped yelping while she continued stroking its head. “Hurry up, Betty! We’re getting late! We have school, remember?” Eddy had to literally drag her away from the spot.
They then rushed to her house. “Hello? There’s an injured pup near our house. It’s in great pain. We live in Churchgate. Yes, I understand it’s in the countryside and very far from the city. That’s why we’re not able to bring the pup to the clinic ourselves! Can you please send some help? Yeah sure! My number is 9941155121. Once you reach the Church, you can call us at this number. We’ll take you to the pup. Thank you so much! We’ll wait for you! Bye!” Eddy cut the call with some relief. “So, now you can relax,” he advised Betty. “Nothing more we can do right now. Sam is having football practice all day today and he can easily slip out of the ground for an hour without anyone noticing. I’ll give the phone to Sam and ask him to take them to the pup once they call. We can visit the pup in the evening after school. Hopefully it’ll still be alive and kicking in the evening! So cheer up!” Betty sniffed and agreed.
Of course she couldn’t concentrate on her lessons the whole day. As soon as the final bell rang, signaling the end of yet another day in school, she rushed to the ground to catch up with Sam to find out whether the ambulance guys had called. “What? Hmm, no! They didn’t call!” Sam replied rather unconvincingly. She picked up the cell-phone and checked the ‘missed’ numbers and sure enough, found the number of the Animal help-line there. “Hey! Wait! I’m sorry! You don’t expect me to play football with the cell-phone in my pocket, do you? I’d asked Harry to call me if it rang! But….” Betty was in no mood to listen to his excuses. Barely managing to suppress a flood of tears, she rushed to the spot where she last saw the pup in the morning. Many strong emotions were clawing at her heart at the same time. First she felt angry at Sam for being so careless. Then she felt an overriding sense of guilt. She had decided that a day of school was more important than saving an innocent life. Then she became numb with pain as she thought of the suffering the poor pup must be enduring, as the ghastly image of the maggots and worms swarming in the pup’s wound came to her mind.
She found the place deserted and quiet. She began to search desperately, parting the branches of the dense bushes. She began walking along the trench cooing endearing words, calling for the pup. Finally she found it lying under a fallen branch, almost hidden from view. It had dragged itself there to die all alone in peace, unnoticed by anybody. Betty couldn’t control her tears anymore. The pup was barely alive now. The hole in its back had more than tripled in size. She wondered if there were any organs left inside its body. There didn’t seem to be any flesh left in the wound. It appeared as if the maggots and worms were swarming out of the pup’s body through that hole in its back, because they felt that it was too crowded inside. She suppressed a wave of nausea and picked up the pup very carefully. She covered the wound with her handkerchief and walked all the way to the cab-stand. She called up Eddy and he promised to meet her at the clinic with the cash to pay the cab driver.
In the clinic, the doctor gave a breezy smile, had one look at the pup and pronounced that only a miracle can save it. “But still, I’ll do everything within my powers to save it. I’ll give it an injection to drive all the maggots out and to sedate it. If it survives till sunrise tomorrow, then we can begin cleaning the wound.” Betty thanked the doctor and waited for Eddy.
After paying the cab-driver, when Betty took him to see the pup, his jaw dropped. It seemed impossible to believe that the tiny white pup was still alive. Its mouth was half open, with its tongue hanging out. Its face wore an expression of great pain and suffering, almost beyond its capacity to endure. Due to the effect of the injection, the maggots and worms were now swarming out of the gaping hole in the tiny pup’s back and the scene seemed to have come straight out of a horror movie. He dragged Betty away from that morbid sight and decided that they had seen enough.
“Don’t worry, I’ll check on it tomorrow. It’ll be ok.”, he said trying to console her. “No. Don’t. I’d like to believe that it survived and lived happily ever after in the clinic with the other pups. I can’t bear to know that it died because I didn’t take it to the clinic in time. I can’t forgive myself for giving more importance to a day’s class than an innocent life.”
The next day after school, Eddy met the doctor, who shrugged and said nonchalantly that the pup died a few hours before dawn. “Even an adult dog would take a month to recover from such a maggot-infested wound. The pup was barely a month old. It had no chance.” Eddy couldn’t resist asking – “Could the pup have been saved if we had brought it to the clinic much earlier, say, in the morning?” “Well, the chances of survival would’ve increased from 40% to 70%, that’s all. It would’ve still died.”
Later, when Eddy broke the news to Betty, she winced and started complaining – “Why did you tell me? I told you not to tell me. I wanted to imagine that it survived and that it is happy!”. “Get real! I met the doctor. He was so cool! He was not upset at all. Do you think he doesn’t care for the pup the same way we do? Of course he does. But experience has taught him not to feel unnecessarily. We too need to learn that lesson. Death is a part of life. All have to die some day. The sooner we get used to this fact, the better. After doing the best we can to help the pup, there’s no point feeling bad and sad that it died. At least you ensured that it died in peace without feeling any pain. Its last conscious memory will be of lying in your lap in the cab, while you gently stroked its head.”
She nodded silently and walked away.

 

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2 Responses to Betty and the wounded puppy

  1. Gomathinayagam says:

    Really touching. While we all have heart to express love and to provide comfort to one who is in distress or pain , many occasions we miss and regret . By doing the required help at the needed moment , indeed we are helping ourselves .

    • I’ve found that as I’ve grown older, I’ve become more and more insensitive to the suffering of others, compared to how I was as a kid (when the Betty incident happened). Just recently I saw a dog with a severe head injury, walking in a dazed manner, and I didn’t do anything to help it. On another occasion, I saw a wounded bird on the divider between two roads, and I just drove on without doing anything to help it. I keep feeling bad about it, but I’ve done nothing to help. The old Gyani (I mean, when I was a kid) would’ve definitely done something to help the injured animals.

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